Monday, August 29, 2011

Inspire: flowers and glass bottles

This is mostly a post of images. I bought one bouquet at the Farmers Market this weekend and made several different arrangements with it. Which I placed all over my apartment.

I love using old glass bottles as vases... can you tell?

Love, C

Friday, August 26, 2011

Love: Cupcake Royale and Seattle

I moved to New England 5 years ago today. While I love my newly adopted home, I still go through fits of missing my real home, Seattle. The following are some of my favorite Seattle things taken on my trips home.

If there is one thing I do every time I'm home in Seattle, it is going to Cupcake Royale. They have been the cupcake institution (can I coin that?) in the Puget Sound area.

Other things that make me miss Seattle (and the West Coast in general):
The plentiful greenery and life:

My parent's garden
The Space Needle:

Space Needle
Kubota Gardens:

And most of all- West Coast Sunsets:

Golden Gardens

Monday, August 22, 2011

Love: Austin, Texas

This past Wednesday through Sunday I was in Austin, Texas to help one of my closest friends pick out her wedding dress- all while enjoying hot hot hot weather and mimosas.
After a full morning of wedding dress shopping at Unbridaled, we lunched at the South Congress Cafe. One day I will come back and have this drink:

But for the morning I was there it was mimosa and bellini time! They make a to-die-for frozen peach bellini. I had their amazing chipotle shrimp quesadilla (I highly recommend it).

The Cafe is across the street from Austin's famed food truck park.

After a very unsuccessful trip to David's Bridal (no offense we found that most of their dresses were made from polyester). We headed out of Austin to The Salt Lick.

The Salt Lick is one of Texas' famed barbeque joints- known for their open pits.

I split their 4 meat platter with a friend- and we barely finished it. Their beef ribs are huge! Here is me and half of one:

I will stop back next time I'm in Austin!

Friday was a day of win. We went to the lovely Blush Bridal Lounge and after only a few tries found THE dress. She is gorgeous in it, and it is everything I ever imagined her wearing down the aisle. I won't post any photos, but it is safe to say the gown is crisp, clean, and classic. Erica and Amanda at Blush were amazing- we had are own personal room to hang out in, and they let us help choose dresses and accessories. Speaking of accessories theirs were too good to pass up. The other stores we went to were pushing flower clips and birdcages for $150-300. Blush's non-bridal headbands were $12 and the beautiful flower hair clip my friend ended up with cost only $20! What a steal.

We brunched at Russell's Bistro and downed more mimosas. I had the BLT- and it was perfect (but I also have an undying love for bacon). Later we drove to the wedding venue to scope it out.

Above is the pool area and below is the ceremony area.

We spent Friday night at Chuy's Mexican Restaurant in Barton Springs.

Saturday we went to Chez Zee for bridal party brunch. To top of a trip of midafternoon drinking we bought a pitcher of mimosas.

I had the lobster omelette and a sliver of their famous creme brulee french toast. The omelette was the perfect savory wake up call and the french toast was everything I had wished for.

The rest of the day we spent poolside and shopping (perfect day, right?) and topped it off with a party at a friends.

Best way to refuel between shopping trips: Sonic. The Cherry Limeade was surprising delicious.
My host's  has the cutest puppy:

I hope to be back in Texas very soon!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Eat: Vanilla Peach Cherry Pie

This weekend G and I went to a Peach Festival at a nearby farm. I had to pick up a box of these babies to make a pie. Recipe below!

2.5 Cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
¾ cup butter (cut into tiny cubes)
½ - ⅔ cup ice water (I put 2 ice cubes in ½ cup cold water)

5 cups thinly sliced peaches*
1 cup halved, pitted cherries
1 cup sugar
2 table spoons vanilla extract
4 teaspoons corn starch
*You can peel the peaches if you hate the skin- but I like to leave them on (just de-fuzzed). Sliced super thin, you won’t even notice the peel and it ads a pop of color.
Why buy pre-made crust when it is super easy to make? All you need is flour, salt, butter and water, people!

1) In a large bowl stir together flour and salt. Use a pastry blender (butter knives and hard spatulas also work) to cut in the butter into the flour until pieces are pea size. 2) Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of ice water into the flour mixture and toss with a fork. Push the moistened flour to the side of the bowl. Repeat the action, working your way around the bowl edge- pulling from the middle. Add water just until flour mixture is consistently moistened and will form a ball. Do not over-saturate the dough. 3) Knead the mixture a few times and form the dough into a ball, and then divide in half. 4) On a lightly floured flat surface use your hands to slightly flatten one of the pastry balls. 5) Use a rolling pin to roll out the dough into a 12 inch in diameter circle. Start in the middle of the dough and roll to the edges.

6) Lightly flour the top of the pastry circle and then roll into onto itself with the rolling pin. Unroll the pastry into a 9inch pie plate. Be gentle, and do not force the dough into the pie pan or it will rip. 7) Trim the dough so it is ½ inch over the edge of the pie plate. Roll the second ball of dough into a 12 inch diameter circle and reserve for later use.

8 Preheat the oven to 375F. In a large bowl combine the sugar and corn starch, sift thoroughly. 9) Add 5 cups of thinly sliced peaches and 1 cup of cherries to the bowl. Gently toss the fruit and dry mixture to combine. 10) Transfer the fruit filling into the prepared pie pan.

11) Carefully roll up the second pastry circle onto the rolling pin and then unroll over the pie. Trim the top pie crust to 1 inch over the edge of the pie pan. 12) Carefully, fold the edge of the top crust over the edge of the bottom, tucking it into the pie pan as you go.


13) Use a paring knife to create steam vents in the top crust. Crimp the edge of your pie how you want. I use a teaspoon to create a simple scallop design.

14) Create crust shield by folding a 12 inch square of foil into quarters. Cut 3 inches out from the folded corners and unfold. Voila la, you have a crust shield.

15) Bake the pie for 30 minutes, then remove foil shield. 16) Bake for 35-40 minutes more until filling is bubbly.

17) Cool on wire rack. I highly suggest serving this with Vanilla Bean ice cream
With the extra sliced peaches and crust I managed to make Country Peach Tart for G to take to lunch. His coworkers were very jealous.

And another photo of the gorgeous peaches:

Love, C

Monday, August 8, 2011

Want: Trina Turk St. Tropez dress

The town where I live is considered a picture perfect New England town. I can't disagree, its idealistic peaceful nature is one of the reasons I decided to move here for college. Once I graduated from college, and stayed in town at my nice little job I found out the truth. My town is constantly being over run by one group or the next. Just as its reputation as a quintessential New England college town would suggest, during the school year there is a huge influx of college age ladies (my school is one of the Seven Sisters).
Mill River, George Ruhe for The New York Times

 As soon as the academic year ends, the students flee for their far-flung homes and the tourists take their places on the streets and in the shops. The reputation of being a gorgeous town means that tourists flock to it. The location of 2 hours from Boston, and 3 from New York City, make it an ideal weekend get away for city folk... city folk who don't know how to drive, or walk on the sidewalks in an efficient manner. Don't get me wrong, I appreciate both the students (having been one) and the tourists because they are probably the only reason the town stays afloat. The really are the only ones who shop in the expensive boutiques that make up 90% of the town's storefronts. Without the steady flow of tourism and full wallets the stores wouldn't be able to sell their fine art, and overpriced clothes. The locals surely don't buy it...unless desperate... except for one weekend in July.

Sidewalk Sales, Photo by Bill McBride,

Near the end of July my town has a sidewalk sale weekend- the only time where retail items are marked as a decent price. Having been through several of these sidewalk sales since I made the move, I knew the key was to get there early- what is put out the first day is what there is to sell.

So being the good shopaholic I am, I promptly took my lunch break early and ran to the higher end boutique in town. I scooped up 10 dresses and took them into the fitting room. One of the dresses I managed to scoop up was the Trina Turk St. Tropez dress in the watermelon color.


I loved it. Everything about it. The silhouette, the fabric, the color. One problem. The dress was a size 8. I am a size 4. It hurt me to put it back on the rack. But that is a size gap just too big to fix. I did end up with two winning dresses- so the sale wasn't a total flop, but a slight heartbreak nonetheless.

So imagine my surprise that I found the dress online, at Nordstrom's Rack for even cheaper? I was in heaven, but I realized that it was going to be really hard to transition the piece into our classic New England Falls and our awful winters. I also had just bought two other dresses, so it was a little overkill.
I just checked online again, and Nordstrom's Rack still has the dress, just no longer in my size. Major bummer, but I still love the dress.

The other week my little paradise city held it's annual sidewalk sale weekend. Our normally busy town, which then gets crowded with tourists come the weekend, was insanely busy.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Eat: Mexican Chocolate, Chocolate Chip Cookies

My favorite ice cream place is Herrells, and my favorite ice cream is their Mexican Chocolate. When I started college they always had it, but as I got into my senior year they slowed down production of it... and eventually ceased making it. They made it twice in 2 years. It sells out within a day of making a batch. I never got bite of either of those batches.

Desperate, I took my cravings for something chocolate and spicy and started playing around with ratios of spices and cookie recipes until I created my favorite.

I have both a Vegan and Non-Vegan version for you to enjoy.
  • 1 Cup packed Brown Sugar
  • ½ Teaspoon Baking Soda
  • ½ Teaspoon Salt
  • ½ Cup White Sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons Cocoa Powder
  • ½ Tablespoon Cinnamon
  • ½ Cup Vegetable Oil
  • 1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
  • ½ Cup Butter
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1 Bag Chocolate Chips
  • 2 ¾ Cups All-Purpose  Flour
  • 1 Teaspoon Mexican Style Chili Powder*
  • 1 Teaspoon Regular Chili Powder
* If you can’t find Mexican Style Chili Powder, just double the regular kind
1) Preheat oven to 375 F. Sift together dry ingredients (minus the flour). Mix together room temperature butter and vegetable oil. Beat in eggs and vanilla extract until mixture is combined. Fold in as much of the flour as you can, and then stir in the chocolate chips.
2) Drop dough by the rounded tablespoon two inches apart, and slightly flatten with your palm. Bake for 7-10 minutes until tops look dry. Remove cookies from pan, and place on a cool surface (I like to use the non-printed-on inside of a brown paper bag).

  • ½ Cup packed Brown Sugar
  • ½ Teaspoon Baking Soda
  • ½ Teaspoon Salt
  • ¼ Cup White Sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons Cocoa Powder
  • ½ Tablespoon Cinnamon
  • ⅔ Cup Vegetable Oil
  • 2 Teaspoons Vanilla Extract
  •  ¼ Cup Non-Dairy Milk (I use almond milk)
  • 1 Bag (Vegan) Chocolate Chips
  •  1 ½ Cups All-Purpose  Flour
  • 1 Teaspoon Mexican Style Chili Powder*
  • 1 Teaspoon Regular Chili Powder
1) Preheat oven to 375 F. Sift together dry ingredients (minus the flour). Mix together soymilk, vegetable oil and vanilla extract until mixture is combined. Fold in as much of the flour as you can, and then stir in the (vegan) chocolate chips.
2) Drop dough by the rounded tablespoon two inches apart, and slightly flatten with your palm. Bake for 7-10 minutes until tops look dry. Remove cookies from pan, and place on a cool surface.

I love to make a batch of these, divide the dough into 7 equal parts, sandwich bag it, and give it to friends with baking instructions. Placing the bags of cookie dough into a small mason jar and freezing it makes an excellent hostess gift.
Let me know how yours turn out!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Want: Dillen II Satchel

I’m craving this Dillen II Satchel from Dooney & Bourke in Emerald green:

It is currently a *special* item for the month of August, so I’m pretty sure I’m going to break down and buy it. Even though the green isn’t neutral, I already have a neutral brown bag that a tote around all the time. I’m a big fan of jewel tones, and I think a pop of emerald is just what my wardrobe needs.

Love, C